strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T still under warranty that the dealer "updated" with the latest computer software. Immediately after that update the car developed an intermittent throttle lag. When stepping on the gas, the car hesitates a second before responding. I've had the Dodge for almost two years and I never experienced this problem. The dealer hooked it up to a data logger and went for a test drive. He found that the delay is real and showed me the graph of pedal input vs. throttle body response. The service manager escalated my case to his district service manager, who referred it to Dodge engineers. Dodge came back and said the car is "operating as designed" and no repairs are authorized. Any advice? Peter
strong>Dear Peter: There are no Technical Service Bulletins on the throttle hesitation you describe. I also researched both our Identifix and Alldata sites and nothing found. Your next step is an aftermarket computer performance download from any of the companies that offer a download. You can check Super Chips and other companies. These computer programmer companies offer a variety of programs that you can down load and then remove when bringing the car or truck back to the dealer for service.
strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 1998 Pontiac Montana minivan. The ABS, brake and anti-slip lights came on about six months ago and my mechanic said that the repair was very costly, but I still had brakes that are operational. Also, my cruise control only works occasionally and I'm used to having the cruise control on all the time. What's involved with repairing the ABS and is that causing my cruise control to act crazy? Mark
strong>Dear Mark: The technician needs to scan the anti-lock brake system to read the trouble fault code in order to give you an accurate estimate. The cruise control system should also have a trouble fault code in memory. Indeed, the cruise control is affected when the anti-lock brake system has a problem. When the ABS light is illuminated, only the anti-lock system is shut down. The brakes will continue to function.
strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2008 BMW 5 Series with original tires and 26,500 miles. Over the past few months all four tires have been plugged because of large nail and screw punctures. How safe is it to continue driving on plugged tires, particularly long distances with the hot summer months upon us? Richard
strong>Dear Richard: The tires are safe to drive on. The one safety item is speed. Anytime a tire is repaired from a puncture, the speed rating is void. Some repair shops use a plug from the outside-in, while other shops break the tire down and repair the puncture from the inside. Either repair method will seal the puncture.
strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 1998 Ford Windstar with 125,000 miles that's been great, but recently I've been having a shifting problem. On three occasions when entering the highway the van would barely broke 20 mph. Once I had to drive home doing 35 mph because if I tried to go faster the vehicle would buck and shake and get noisy. The transmission shop did a compression test that was normal and the fluid was clean. Do you think this is a transmission problem, mechanical or a computer problem? Bill
strong>Dear Bill: Though there were no fault codes present, did your technician check for any history or pending codes? Have the technician check the freewheel spinning of all four wheels. The noise you mention does sound mechanical not electronic. Also check for a dragging brake especially, a rear brake shoe.
strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 1996 Cadillac SLS with only 43,000 miles. I have severe injuries and cannot turn the key to start. Is there any way to get an automatic button or starter? I don't want to have to buy a new car at my advanced age and low mileage use. Peg
strong>Dear Peg: There are companies that can retrofit vehicles with different style ignition start systems. Check with you local rehabilitation hospital for a referral. Remote car starters are a possibility, however the ignition key would still need to be turned to unlock the steering wheel and also keep the engine running.
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